Former soldier follows Rashford march for free school meal campaign

The free school meal campaign initiated by Football star Marcus Rashford gains ample ground this week when the government took a U-turn on its decision not to continue with free meals through the summer.

Another related development is that the deputy headteacher at Western Primary School, who has walked nearly 400 miles and carried almost three tonnes of food since the pandemic began, has lauded these efforts.

Two different people from two different professions get connected by the same advocacy with all the benefits going to the disadvantaged children of Great Britain. Yet much is foreseen by going the extra mile for many children worldwide. Children hunger for food, but their minds crave for continuous learning.

Rashford’s free school meal campaign meets its biggest supporter

The Rashford-led initiative, the free school meal campaign, has reinstated belief in the power of connectivity and a collective voice. Together, they have shown the world that they can bring about a drastic change in the way things are perceived and decisions are made. It has even garnered appreciation from a humble yet heroic teacher and former soldier, Zane Powles, who is literally going the extra mile to help his students amid tough times. 

A YouGov survey conducted for the Food Foundation group recently revealed that over 2.4 million kids are at the risk of food poverty with school suspending the free meals services amid lockdowns. Getting nutritious intake of meals is their fundamental right, but it appears that this aspect isn’t getting enough attention amidst conversations about health problems and emergency support.

Rashford’s free school meal campaign couldn’t have had a better validation for the efforts undertaken so far. Powles, who sets an inspiring example himself, featured on Good Morning Britain on June 18. He took the platform to express admiration for the campaign that ultimately prompted the government to offer free meals to vulnerable kids throughout the summer break. 

For most of us, lockdowns have meant an increased amount of housekeeping work and stressing over striking a workable balance between homeschooling kids and tackling remote working challenges at the same time. For Powles, though, it has meant all of the above and helping the needy families get food on the table for their kids.

Social connectivity gets me going, Powles

Running his own free school meal campaign, Powles spends close to two hours daily, walking at least five miles to hand-deliver free food to families who are struggling to pay for their children’s food. The 47-year-old father of three kids firmly believes that helping people in need is a good and essential part of everyone’s life, and this little effort can go a long way in ensuring that no kid is deprived of a chance at a healthy lifestyle.

Indeed, Powles’ selflessness and compassion have been overwhelming, and he certainly isn’t new to a regular shower of praises from people who see him doing the rounds every single day, regardless of how bad the weather is or how worse the coronavirus outbreak has gotten so far. But what is the ultimate feel-good factor for Powles himself when he is out, running his own free school meal campaign? 

According to him, it is a chance to connect with people. And that is the sole reason he likes to do this on foot rather than taking a bike or a car. For many parents and kids, he says, the daily visits are not only the only source of free meals but a much-needed interaction with an outsider. 

Certainly, in the beginning, because sometimes I was the only adult they saw for two or three days, and I said to them, “If I can help you out, I will, whatever I can do”. 

Why staying connected is essential

The power of connectivity takes the spotlight in both instances. Mitch Rankin, the English Forward co-founder states in his recent post, connectivity is essential for us to be united in mind, perception, and action. The connection allows energy to flow among people to act as one when they want someone to feel seen, heard, and valued. 

Even neuroscience studies reveal that social connectivity is just as fundamental as food and water. And although with COVID-19 spread, normal life has essentially ground to a halt, the dependence on digital infrastructure is our only and best chance at keeping the ball rolling. Technologies like blockchain can transform the way businesses interact with one another, altering the entire structure of commerce and security.

Unlocking the power of social media

The fact that “more people own a mobile device than a toothbrush” speaks volumes about the incredible power social media holds. Those in leadership positions are certainly not hidden to social media’s vast reach and have, understandably so, tapped into its power. 

From helping with business continuity, connecting governments with healthcare systems to helping us stay in touch with friends and family, there is no denying that social media has a significant role to play in helping us maintain that momentum despite the hard times. 

And it wouldn’t be an overstatement to add that even the Rashford-led free school meal campaign wouldn’t have been as successful as it is today without the help of social media and the power of leveraging connectivity. 

 One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone. ― Shannon L. Alder